Losing friends when embarking on a new journey is inevitable. This could be due to varied distinct factors like having different aspirations and going into different courses or universities.
Friend breakups happen frequently, more often than we can envision. So the million-dollar question is: how do you seek closure when facing such unfortunate circumstances? And how can we become our own best friends?
In fact, it has been scientifically proven that ending a friendship could be even worse than a breakup. There is no shortage of television shows, songs, dramas depicting how hard it is for people to go through breakups, but next to nothing for friend breakups.
Before we dive deeper into the topic, what exactly are friend breakups? They are the consequence of people gradually growing apart. The reasons for them often go undiscussed, some being distance, differences in lifestyles or even misunderstandings. The most excruciating part of friend breakups is that we often do not know what caused them or what to do about them. It’s often too “weird” to talk about it and may come across as socially inappropriate, especially in Asian contexts.
In romantic relationships, there is often an official conversation, an official farewell bade between separating couples. But this official mark of ending is often not present for dissipating friendships. Friends stop contacting each other for seemingly no reason. There are often misunderstandings not talked about, cowardice preventing conversations, and physical distance pulling two friends apart.
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There is often a guilt factor playing a part in friend breakups.
We feel ashamed that we could not make it work.
As teenagers and adults, we often feel that we should have everything in check. We often assume that we should have everything figured out, just like how others seem like they have everything figured out. We feel a sense of uneasiness. We are afraid of seeking help—it makes us feel weak and inadequate—but this often makes us feel more isolated. Humans are innately social creatures. We crave affection. We crave attention. We crave social contact. Losing contact with friends just goes against all of the things we want.
We take things too personally.
It’s common for us to anticipate that a romantic relationship won’t last forever. But the same isn’t propagated for friendships. We all have a psychological immune system that defends and preserves our emotional wellbeing—one that is similar to a physical immune system that protects us from germs, bacteria, viruses and diseases.
When we feel strong, our psychological immune system is fortified. We feel self-assured and balanced. But our psychological immune system is often not as strong as it seems due to childhood traumas, lingering feelings of self-inadequacy, low self-esteem levels or even a misplaced sense of self. As such, a friend breakup could be a heavy blow dealt on us. Since we don’t often take time to fortify our psychological immune system, we could become easily disturbed, exhaustingly sensitive and especially susceptible to self-doubt and fear.
We need to be our own best friends.
To deal with relationship crises properly, we need to consistently put in the effort to be our own best friends. We need to trust ourselves, believe in ourselves and forgive ourselves. When we have a hard time befriending ourselves, the idea of self could shatter, sometimes even yielding irreversible damage.
Self-love does not just mean eating a chocolate chip cookie or taking a bubble bath. Self-love means radically changing your relationship with yourself. It means calming anxious thoughts, healing depressed minds, and decreasing eating disorder behaviours. It means being kind, and being consistent in swiping away our inner “mean girl”.
The critical parts of ourselves, our inner “mean girl” are meant to help us survive. They are aspects of ourselves that created strategies for our safety and survival. They function as an advanced neural network of a computer system that is built for purely two reasons—connection and safety.
When distressing events or traumatic scenarios occur, our brains create an understanding or belief of how the world works. And these beliefs or expectations are merely reinforced as we grow up, though they are often outdated and sometimes even get in the way of our successes and happiness. These memories and images are permanently stored in our hard drive, with the only solution being befriending ourselves, even the critique, wounded and protective parts.
It is often profound to befriend ourselves.
Our inner critiques will begin to calm down, the wounded parts heal while the protective parts realise they don’t need to work as hard anymore. Being our own friend entails being more understanding and kind to ourselves.
It has a lot of positive benefits as well! Neurobiologically, when we understand ourselves, it is one way for us to calm down. It means listening to our inner, intrusive thoughts. And it means being a friendly ear to ourselves, and being in touch with our own thoughts and feelings.
Friends come and leave. Not all friends are good friends.
We need to normalise being friendly to ourselves before we can be good friends to others.
How do we (actually) get over friend breakups
- Time heals everything. It often takes time for us to actually get over someone, especially one that we used to be very close to. But coming to terms with that will help our lives go back to normal.
- Reflect and do a post-mortem. Though a relationship hiccup is always due to problems from both parties, it is always time to reflect on what you have done right, things that you have done wrong and could have done better.
- Make new friends!!! They always say that starting new relationships heal finished ones. And this could be one of the ways you could forget about your frienemy.
– Karner, Carissa. The Art of Being Your Own Best Friend. TEDxBelmontShore https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-W1OXmQQRe0
– Breit Carly. 2018, September 24. Why ending a friendship could be worse than a breakup. Time. https://time.com/5402304/friendship-breakups-worse-romantic/